Biking is a rewarding hobby that allows children to get some fresh air and a healthy dose of exercise while evoking a sense of freedom and independence. However, before children acquire this skill, they must first learn the basic bike safety rules.
Read this post to learn about the importance of bike safety for kids, the safety tips to keep in mind, and the traffic rules to follow.
Why Is Bike Safety Important For Kids?
Young children are often excited to ride their bikes for the first time. The new skill gives them opportunities to learn and explore. However, in the US, about half a million children pick up severe bicycle-related injuries every year (2). Therefore, to make bike riding safe and enjoyable, it is important to teach children the basic bike safety rules from a young age.
Riding a bike on the road along with the other vehicles can be intimidating. However, knowing the safety rules and understanding the bike safety tips will enable children to stay safe and become confident riders.
What Are The Bike Safety Tips For Kids?
While learning to ride a bike, children must be aware of the following safety tips to safeguard themselves from injuries.
- Wear bike helmets: This is the most important safety tip as it ensures protection against serious head injuries. Here are some points to note regarding bike helmets (2) (3).
- Buy a helmet that fits well and has the Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) sticker inside. The helmet must not wobble on the child’s head.
- Teach them to wear their helmet correctly. The helmet must cover the forehead, and the straps need to be fastened.
- Encourage your children to store the helmet safely when not in use, as a broken or damaged helmet does not provide complete protection.
- Change your child’s helmet if they have hit it on a hard surface even if no crack or damage is visible. Helmets lose their ability to absorb shock after being struck.
- Replace helmets three to five years since helmets tend to wear down with use (4).
- Choose helmets in bright colors and stick reflective stickers on them for better visibility.
- Make themselves visible: Explain to your children that they need to be visible to other bike riders and drivers on the road. Visibility will help them stay safe. To ensure better visibility, they can (5)
- Wear white, light-colored, bright, or reflective clothing.
- Avoid riding their bike at dusk. If they do, they should wear clothes that have neon stripes and be accompanied by an adult.
- Wear appropriate clothing: The right clothing ensures your children are comfortable while riding their bikes. Remember these points while choosing their clothing (6).
- The clothes should fit properly. Loose-fitting clothing can obstruct their ride and might even get caught between the wheels.
- Opt for sturdy shoes that protect the toes. It is dangerous to ride a bike barefoot or in flip-flops.
- Do not allow them to use headphones while riding. They must be alert and pay attention to the traffic.
- Choose an age-appropriate bike: The type of bike chosen must match the age and height of the child. While younger children can opt for bikes with training wheels, older ones may choose a more advanced model. Here are a few safety measures to take (3).
- Never buy oversized bikes. The child’s feet should touch the ground when they are seated on the bike.
- They should be comfortable with the functionality of the bike.
- They should have good control over their bike.
- Check the bike regularly: Regular inspection ensures that your child’s bike is in good condition and does not break down while they are on the go. To ensure that their bike functions properly, these rules must be followed (3).
- Check the tire pressure and ensure that the seat is secured.
- Ensure that the bike horn and brakes work properly.
- Ensure that the bike chain is tight and well-oiled.
- Learn to control the bike: While teaching your child to ride a bike, it is also necessary to teach them the correct bike controlling techniques. Help your child understand these rules to control their bike well (6).
- They must hold the handlebars with both hands.
- All their belongings, such as books and bottles, should be placed in a backpack.
- They must learn to apply the brakes properly while stopping their bike during an emergency.
- Only one person should ride a bike at a time.
Since children emulate the behavior of adults, a good way to teach them the basic bike safety rules is by setting a good example and following the rules yourself.
What Are The Rules Of The Road For Kids?
Learning the traffic rules is necessary to help children avoid serious injuries and become responsible bike riders. The following are the basic rules of the road that children need to learn (2) (6) (7).
- Learning hand signals is necessary to ensure that the other drivers on the road know their next move. The hand signals are as follows.
|● Left turn: Extended left hand|
|● Right turn: Left arm bent in an L shape at the elbow or right hand extended|
|● Stop: Left arm bent down in an L shape at the elbow|
- Children under the age of ten should ride their bikes on the sidewalk. Older ones can use the bike lanes.
- Look carefully in both directions before turning into a street or riding the bike through intersections.
- Beware of vehicles that come out of driveways or parking spaces.
- Ride the bike in the direction of the flow of traffic.
- Pay attention to the traffic signals and follow the rules.
- Make eye contact with the drivers of other vehicles to ensure they have seen the child.
- Move in a straight line to avoid creating confusion for other vehicle drivers.
- Stay alert to avoid dangers such as potholes and cracks on the road.
Why Should Kids Wear A Bike Helmet?
Helmets reduce the risk of head injuries while riding a bike. In the US, around 800 bike riders meet fatal accidents every year. Two-thirds of these deaths involve head and face injury. The rate of fatality can be reduced by about 85% if bike riders wear helmets (8).
Children may not like wearing helmets, but you could encourage them by (9)
- Wearing a helmet yourself.
- Allowing your child to pick their bike helmet and decorating it with stickers.
- Rewarding your child for wearing a helmet.
- Encouraging your child’s friends to wear helmets too.
Riding a bike is an environmentally friendly family activity that could be developed as a habit to improve your family’s fitness level and help you bond. Teaching your child the bike safety rules from a young age ensures that their safety and well-being are prioritized.